April Reading: National Poetry Month

The first poem I ever loved was Annabelle Lee by Edgar Allan Poe— long before I knew that I was related to him. Back then, I just thought it was cool that we shared a last name and loved the whimsical nature of Annabelle Lee. It reminded me of my grandparents cottage on Lake Erie and princess fairytales. It was also dark, very dark, which even in elementary school I liked. By the time I was in high school, I had found other poets— Maya Angelou and Robert Frost. In college I discovered William Blake. Other than that, though, poetry was never something I really dedicated myself to reading. Yes— I read Milk & Honey (if you consider Kaur poetry— which I do not in the traditional sense). So, in honor of National Poetry month, this past April I focused on poetry. As a Creative Writing major, I figured it was time. I was also able to fit in two novels this month, although they were both fairly soft poetic reads in their own way. 

Bone (5 Stars) by Yrsa Daley-Ward

  • This is the first time I’ve read Ward, but I loved her from the first page. I kept seeing this book all over Instagram and figured that I should give it a chance. I defiantly wasn’t disappointed. There’s a portion near the end that’s a long piece that I really just fell in love with, and the entire book feels like someone you love is handing you some special knowledge about the world that should be cherished. This collection isn’t too long and has a beautiful presentation on the page. It took me about two days to read because I broke it in half. It’s defiantly not a light collection— Ward talks about her own personal experiences with sexual, emotional, and physical abuse. She talks about sexuality and the complexities of love. Her revelations are beautiful. 

Bright Dead Things (5 Stars) by Ada Limon

  • This deserves the praise it’s gotten. It’s also another book I saw all over Instagram for the longest time. The first time I ran into Limon I read her poem on learning to be quiet and fell in love with it. Immediately I knew that I needed the collection, and once again I was not disappointed. Most of the collection knocks it out of the park, and Limon’s style and descriptions reminded me a lot of the great American west— particularly the National Parks. My family vacations to Yellowstone and Yosemite are some of my most cherished childhood memories, and this imagery in this book brought me back to those moments in the car, looking out at the Bison in Montana. 

A Thousand Mornings (5 Stars) by Mary Oliver

  • This was the last thing I read this month, and it took me about 30 minutes. It’s only 80 pages. It most certainly was wonderful all the way through. I’ve had Mary Oliver suggested to me a lot, and I’m glad I finally decided to actually sit down and read this short little collection. It’s the perfect poetry book for spring— it feels airy and fresh and new and light. It’s a beautiful intimate look at nature. 

 

The Rose That Grew from Concrete (5 Stars) by Tupac Shakur

  • I love rap music. For a small white woman I listen to it quite a bit, and it’s made an impact on the way that I write and think about poetry. This collection of poetry from Tupac is worth the read. It’s short— simple enough to get through in one sitting. I thought it was really cool that each poem has an included original, handwritten copy next to it. It’s an interesting reminder that even the most wonderful words were once innocently scribbled in someone’s notebook. This is essential reading; especially in today’s America. 

The Witch Doesn't Burn In This One (Women are some kind of magic #2) (2.5/3 Stars) by Amanda Lovelaceladybookmad

  • I liked Lovelace’s first collection, although it wasn’t my favorite. She has really strong points, but also very weak ones. This collection was very angry. She, of course, has every right to be angry about everything. It’s relatable as hell. But this collection didn’t speak to me much because of that. As someone that’s experienced sexual assault in their own life, her feels are relatable and her frustration is justified. But her interoperation of those feelings just didn’t… do it for me. Not like other things that I’ve read about the same topic. Lovelace defiantly holds her brand well. She’s very dramatic and uses metaphor well, and holds it throughout the whole collection. But I also think the metaphor was at times too much, for me at least. The writing of the book is literally in red. Very dramatic. 

Norse Mythology (4 Stars) by Neil Gaiman

  • When I first picked up this book, I wasn’t into it right away. I’d never read a Neil Gaiman book so I wasn’t sure what to expect. He defiantly has a very distinct style of writing and that’s something to get used to. It’s also not one long story, although it kind of is, and its a good book to read if you have a lot going on. It’s short and the chapters are manageable if you just want something fun to sit down and relax. I also learned a lot about the Norse myths and Gaiman certainly brings them to life in a unique way. His language is wonderful for the topic. Just the right amount of drama, but modern too. 
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All the Light We Cannot See (5 Stars)by Anthony Doerr 

  • All the Light won the Pulitzer Prize, spent two and a half years on the NYT bestseller list, and was a National book award finalist. It deserves all of this and more. It is truly a masterpiece. While I was reading it, it took me about three weeks (530 pages + reading it during finals week), people kept coming up to me and telling me about how sad it was. This is true, but not the way you might think. All the Light is a book you read for the experience. You have to let the book seep— it’s like looking at a painting. You’re reading it to appreciate the descriptions and the life of the novel rather than to get to a conclusion. The book’s ending is tragic but necessary. It shows the ways in which the good gets into the world in even the worst circumstances and how, sometimes, things make it full circle even without us. It is defiantly one of my new favorite books.